With just two albums to his name, Kane Brown has established himself as one of the biggest stars of modern Country music. The 26-year-old Tennessee native is also one of the most divisive artists in the genre, ignored by traditionalists but loved by the more open-minded genre fans who like their Country with influences from other genres. After the release of several singles, Brown has bundled them up with some news tracks for the 7-track EP Mixtape Vol. 1.
Current single Cool Again kicks the EP off but sadly not the remix featuring Nelly. The breezy pop Country track has been climbing the Country charts, and it’s not really a surprise as it’s hook-laden and summer ready. The song is a perfect slice of modern Country, the kind of which is very much dominating airplay right now. For my money the remix with Nelly packs more of a punch but even without Nelly, you can’t deny this is a cracking song.
The other tracks included here that fans will already have heard are Be Like That (feat. Swae Lee and Khalid), Last Time I Say Sorry with John Legend and Worldwide Beautiful. Those three songs perfectly encapsulate Brown’s appeal. He’s a bit of a chameleon and can shape his sound however he needs to depending on the track. Be Like That is straight up hip-hop while Last Time I Say Sorry is a contemporary pop/soul ballad that shows Brown’s vocals off in a way we’ve not really heard them before. Worldwide Beautiful, which closes out the EP, was the name of Brown’s recent tour and it borrows a little of the speak-sing style of Sam Hunt while calling for unity.
Of the songs fans won’t have heard yet, Worship You mixes two Country staples – women and religion – in a song that will sit nicely alongside Brown’s previous material. BFE, the best song here, is a throwback to 90s Country and proves that when he wants to, Brown can go traditional and pull it off, while BFE sounds a little Elton John musically with big chords that open up into a melodic chorus.
Across the songs included on Mixtape Vol. 1, Brown showcases all sides of his abilities. While his genre shapeshifting may not sit well with all Country fans, I find him a refreshing change. Vocally he’s Country through-and-through but through his music he pays homage to all of the genres that have inspired him. I’m sure people will complain this isn’t Country enough but they can’t say this isn’t a perfectly crafted collection of songs.
Track list: 1. Cool Again 2. Be Like That (feat. Swae Lee and Khalid) 3. Worship You 4. BFE 5. Didn’t Know What Love Was 6. Last Time I Say Sorry (with John Legend) 7. Worldwide Beautiful Released by: RCA Release date: 14th August 2020